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If you can’t say something nice…

I don’t know much about this little clipping I found in the back of a copy of Mrs. Piozzi’s Anecdotes, but I think it’s safe to say the author was not a fan of Johnson.

Character of Dr. Johnson, Written After His Death

A Bard, whom Apollo had never inspir’d;
A Courtier, who scribbled just as he was hir’d;
A Critic, thro’ caprice and prejudice blind,
And virtuous, because to no vices inclin’d;
An implicit Believer, because he ne’er doubted,
And a Writer, because he could not live without it.
In conduct a Bear, conversation a Clown,
A Friend to no country excepting his own.
An Author inflated with pride and bombast;
A Bigot, in trammels confin’d to the last;
A Dupe to the Church, and a slave to the Priest:
In learning a Pedant, in manners a Beast.

Public Advertiser poem

UPDATE 03/08/10

My thanks to Professor James Woolley of Lafayette College for suggesting that this poem is perhaps an imitation of a 1731 blast aimed at Sir Robert Walpole (questionably attributed to Jonathan Swift).

With favour and fortune fastidiously blest,
He’s loud in his laugh, and he’s coarse in his jest;
Of favour and fortune unmerited, vain,
A sharper in trifles, a dupe in the main;
Achieving of no thing, still promising wonders.
By dint of experience improving in blunders;
Oppressing true merit, exalting the base.
And sell1ng his country to purchase his place;
A jobber of stocks by retailing false news;
A prater at court in the style of the stews ;
Of virtue and worth by profession a giber;
Of juries and senates the bully and briber.
Though I name not the wretch, you all know who I mean—
Tis the cur-dog of Britain, and spaniel of Spain.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 19th, 2009 |Comments Off on If you can’t say something nice…

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